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Home » Hacking News » EFF says Google Desktop insecure

EFF says Google Desktop insecure

by Nikola Strahija on February 10th, 2006 Electronic Frontier Foundation, a respected nonprofit privacy watch group, recently released a warning to PC users not to use the new version of Google Desktop.

The organization released this advice because of a new feature added to Google Desktop on Feb. 9, which stores users' data on Google servers.

Share Across Computers feature stores Web browsing history, Microsoft Office documents, PDF and text files on Google's servers in order to enable a user run remote searches from multiple computers. EFF said this presents a lucrative target to malicious hackers.

-This will make personal data more vulnerable to subpoenas from the government and possibly private litigants, while providing a convenient one-stop-shop for hackers who've obtained a user's Google password, the EFF said in a statement.

Google argues that data has to be stored on Google servers, because some of the computers might be turned off or offline when new or updated items are indexed on a different machine. -We store this data temporarily on Google Desktop servers and automatically delete older flies, and your data is never accessible by anyone doing a Google search, the company said.

Also, there's a 'Clear my Files' button, which manually removes all files from Google servers, and specific files can be deleted or made unsearchable.

This is not enough for EFF, even more when Google is being investigated by government demanding search results and queries.
-It is shocking that Google expects its users to now trust it with the contents of their personal computers, said EFF staff attorney Kevin Bankston. -Unless you configure Google Desktop very carefully, and few people will, Google will have copies of your tax returns, love letters, business records, financial and medical files, and whatever other text-based documents the Desktop software can index.'

Other security experts have already warned enterprises against the use of desktop search software because of the serious risk of data theft and sensitive information exposure.

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